March 6, 2020in Doctor Resource

Self-Quarantine Guide to Preventing Coronavirus Spread

This self-quarantine guide is helpful for everyone concerned about the coronavirus outbreak, and especially useful for

  • People with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 who do not need hospitalization
  • People with confirmed COVID-19 who were hospitalized but are now discharged home
  • Friends and family of people in the above categories

If you are a patient, your own doctor and local public health staff will decide whether you can be cared for at home. If they feel that you do not need hospitalization, and you can be safely isolated at home, you will go home from the clinic or hospital.

Follow these 9 prevention steps below until your doctor or the health department says you have completed self-quarantine (home isolation) and can return to your normal activities. These prevention steps may also be helpful during other contagious respiratory infections such as the seasonal flu.

Stay at home, except for going to get medical care

  • Do not go to work, school, church, playgrounds, or other public areas
  • For medical care questions about your COVID-19 symptoms or other health issues, get advice from your doctor by video or phone. You generally do not want to walk into a clinic or ER during this coronavirus outbreak
  • If having an emergency (for example, difficulty breathing, chest pain, etc.), call 911 or your local emergency services number for an ambulance, and don’t waste time trying to reach your doctor. Tell the 911 dispatcher that you are in self-quarantine for COVID-19, and describe your emergency
  • Avoid using public transportation, ride sharing, or taxis unless absolutely necessary. Wear a mask when going somewhere

Separate yourself from other people and pets in your home

  • As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room away from other people in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available
  • Avoid playing with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19. If you do play with your pets, make sure everyone in the home knows the pets may have virus on them

If you have a medical, dental, or other appointment, call the provider and say that you have or may have COVID-19

  • This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to prevent other people from getting infected or exposed
  • The safer choice may be to postpone your appointment or convert it to a video consultation
  • Wear a facemask when going to and from the provider’s clinic

Wear a facemask when you are around other people, such as when sharing a room or traveling in a vehicle

  • If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they are near you or enter your room

Cover your coughs and sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a big tissue when you cough or sneeze if not wearing a mask. You can also cough into your sleeve at your elbow
  • Throw used tissues into a trash bag and immediately wash your hands with soap and water, or clean your hands with an alcohol hand sanitizer

Avoid sharing personal household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets

  • After using these items, they should be washed with regular soap or detergent

Keep your hands clean, by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or by cleaning your hands with an alcohol hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday

  • High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables
  • Also clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, urine, or body fluids on them
  • Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, and follow the instructions on the label
  • Labels show instructions for safe and effective use of each cleaning product, including precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation, plenty of air circulation

Finishing self-quarantine or home isolation

  • Patients should remain under self-quarantine or home isolation precautions until the risk of transmission to others is thought to be low
  • The decision to end quarantine or isolation precautions is made on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with your doctor and state or local health departments. A common duration is 14 days, but varies depending on each person’s unique circumstances

For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control page:

To follow the pandemic status in your county, state, or country, see the Johns Hopkins global tracking map:

Robert Kwok

Robert Kwok

Robert Kwok, MD, Director of Health Informatics at HealthTap, is a board-certified physician who practiced medicine for 27 years. He earned his MD and pediatrics credentials at Baylor College of Medicine. Before HealthTap, he practiced clinical pediatrics in Northern California, most recently with Stanford Medicine.